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Organic Search Traffic Data: Are You Looking at the Right Numbers?

  |  April 18, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Consider these five key points to understand and optimise your search data.

With Google's free analytics tool, it is possible for every site owner to obtain different types of site performance data including traffic data. You may use one of the paid analytics tools, which let's you customise to collect specific data. Either way, the data is there to give you some insights of what is going on with your website. But, are you looking at the right data? If not, it could mislead you to a never-never-land.

1. Non-paid vs. paid traffic

In order to see the organic search traffic per keyword, first, you select "non-paid" in the "keywords" section. I know it sounds obvious, but I've seen many SEO reports showing the total traffic data instead. Note that Google's analytics tool tends to switch the setting back to default (total) when you move to another page. So you may be looking at total numbers without noticing it.

2. Keyword performance

Now, you see the data such as the number of visits and bounce rate for each searched term that brought any traffic to the site.

Often times people say, "This keyword doesn't perform well, because it has very high bounce rate." Before you put the keyword on a black list, find out which page or pages the keyword is bringing the traffic to.

3. Landing pages

For example, a keyword 'dds' brought traffic to 29 different landing pages on this particular site.

You may find that the visitors are landing on the page, which is not designed for the keyword 'dds', including the home page. If so, it's the page, and not the keyword causing the high bounce rate. In this case, you need to investigate the reason why the page you are optimising for 'dds' is not getting the majority of the search traffic.

4a. Landing page performance – search result snippet

Have you checked to see how your pages show up in the search results for the target keywords? When a preferred landing page for the keyword is ranking well, but not getting any quality traffic to the page from the organic search results, the search result snippet may be the reason. I doubt that the site owner of Calculator.com has seen how their page shows up in the search result.

Make sure that the page snippet showing up in the search results accurately describes the page content and connects with the searcher's intent.

4b. Landing page performance – content

The page snippet showing up in the search results looks good and it's getting clicks but it may not be performing well, resulting in a high bounce rate and extremely short times on the page. In this case, you need to review what's on the page. Not just the main content, but also graphics, ads, and everything else that people would see when they land on the page from the search result. Does it give the impression of "you are on the right page with the information you are looking for" right away? If the information people are looking for is buried in other content, is placed below the fold, or camouflaged in your company acronyms, the page won't perform well.

5. Keywords with no traffic

All of this data is great, but it doesn't give you a whole picture. It doesn't tell you what you are missing. For example, a keyword, which isn't currently bringing much traffic to the site could actually outperform some of your top traffic keywords. For this reason, you shouldn't write it off without looking into the reasons why it's not currently performing well. It may be because it's not ranking well and that people don't find the page in the search result. It may be because the page snippet in the results needs to be optimised. If you want to grow your business, dig deeper and focus on those keywords that could perform better.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Motoko Hunt

Since Motoko established AJPR in 1998, she has been providing the online marketing services targeting Japan and Asia to companies from around the world, helping them to enter the regional market using the Internet. Her search marketing consulting services with her extensive knowledge of Asia and Japanese market have been highly valued and made big impact on some of the world's popular multi-national brands' search marketing campaigns.

A number of her articles have been published on industry websites and printed media including Multilingual Computing and International Journal of Localization. She also writes about the Japanese online market on her blog and Multilingual-Search.com. She's a frequent speaker at search marketing conferences globally, and gives seminars and trainings about search marketing targeting Japan and Asia.

Prior to entering the online marketing industry in the mid 90's, she worked as a senior marketing manager at a traditional marketing and trading firm, marketing U.S. products to Japanese government and heavy industries.

She believes in giving back to the community and volunteers her time for industry organizations. She served as a member of Board of Directors of SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), and is a Chairman of SEMPO Asia-Pacific Committee. In March 2009, she received the first SEMPO President Award for her support and dedication to the search industry and SEMPO organization.

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